Culture Immersion

Alex Perkins is a travel and adventure enthusiast based in Nashville, Tennessee. “A few years back, a friend of mine invited me to join her on a camping trip in Red River Gorge, Kentucky. This led me to a healthy passion for backpacking, and I have really enjoyed learning the culture,” he explains. “I am lucky to live very close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which contains 900 miles of wonderful, winding trails through the Tennessee and North Carolina mountains. If you are visiting the park, the 70-mile strip of the Appalachian Trail is particularly interesting because of the various types of hikers you will surely encounter.” On his most recent backpacking trip in the Smokies, Alex traveled 30 miles, sticking primarily to the Trail, where he wanted to document the hikers and their culture. “I wanted to hear their stories, and immerse myself in their lifestyle,” he says.

During his hike, Alex met thru, section, and day-hikers and found that there is a wonderful camaraderie present among all of the hikers he came across. “It is as though they share a common understanding between themselves that they are each out here because they choose to be,” he says. “They share a mutual affinity for being outdoors and getting away from the stresses of everyday life. Friendships seem to flourish on the Trail — an element that I find extremely compelling in this backpacking community.” Alex hopes to get back on the Trail someday soon so he can continue to document some of the people, places, and things that inspire him the most.
Watch Alex talk about hiking, photography, and the sense of peace and camaraderie he found on the Trail at:

Lookout tower on the summit of Mount Cammerer in the Smokies (half a mile off the Trail) — built as a fire watch tower in the 1930s and manned by a fire ranger for 30 years

Cosby Knob Shelter; Below from left: Thru-hikers Patawon and Rocket; Alex (self-portrait); Day-hiker Jerry (from China); Section-hiker Brandon

From left: Section hikers Adriana, Josh, and Nelson at Kephart Shelter